Backlash over Italy minister’s uniforms

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Salvini illegally wears police and fire service badges

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Mr Salvini regularly posts images of himself wearing the insignia on Facebook

Italy takes its dress code as a matter of permanent national priority. Each profession has its own official or de facto uniform.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has chosen to defy the code by wearing shirts with police or fire service insignia.

He says this is a sign of his support for the respective forces.

But article 498 of Italy's criminal code decrees that it is illegal to wear a public official's uniform or badges.

The fines for transgression range from €154 to €929.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Some want Mr Salvini to pay fines for wearing the badges and uniforms

'Disrespect for the uniform'

Italy's firefighters' union, angered by public cuts, believes that Mr Salvini should be punished for breaking this law.

"You can't make people believe that they're in front of a policeman when you're not," it said in a statement.

"Why the interest in using the uniforms if that's not followed by tangible acts? It is obvious to everyone that us, the fire services, loved by everyone, have not been given a single extra euro in next year's budget and we are stuck with a contract that is irregular."

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Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Wearing the uniforms has become one of the trademarks of Mr Salvini's six months in office

Mr Salvini's political opponents accuse him of grandstanding by wearing police and fire service uniforms.

"I think it's extremely serious," the author Roberto Saviano told radio listeners.

"It's disrespect for the uniform. It seems like an act of solidarity and closeness and it isn't at all (…) It's an abuse."

'Source of pride'

The Interior Minister himself rejects the criticisms.

"For me to receive the gift of jackets and badges from the security forces is a source of pride!", Mr Salvini posted on his Facebook page.

"It is a recognition of the work we have done these last few months, and of my support for those who wear a uniform. I'm sorry for Saviano who can't either say or do the same."

The firefighters' union says he should continue to wear its uniforms in order to increase the fines he will have to pay.

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